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Airport wants to hand off property

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 25. 2017 9:06PM

MANCHESTER — In a controversial land acquisition nearly two decades ago, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport got 57 acres of land in Manchester and Londonderry for a runway expansion project.

The property was needed to offset filling in 13 acres of wetlands as part of expanding the southern portion of the airport’s north-south runway.

Manchester home builder Peter J. King, whose family owned the property through two trusts, sued the city in 1998 to try to stop the eminent domain process, rejecting the $275,000 offered by airport officials, according to news accounts.

King eventually settled for $1.1 million, Deputy Airport Director Thomas Malafronte confirmed Monday.

Now, airport officials want the Fish and Game Department “to continue to maintain the property in its natural state as a wildlife corridor in perpetuity,” according to a notice in the Federal Register last week.

Malafronte said the airport was spending thousands annually in recent years managing the property southwest of the airport, including cleaning up tires and trash.

“I think we estimated it to be about $30,000 a year,” including personnel and equipment, Malafronte said.

“This agreement represents a win-win for the airport and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department,” Malafronte said. “The airport will no longer have to dedicate resources to protect and maintain the site and it will be managed by an organization which specializes in maintaining conservation land and wildlife habitat.”

Fish and Game officials and members of the King family couldn’t be reached for comment.

According to Malafronte, discussions between the Federal Aviation Administration and the airport started in early 2015 with a formal request submitted that September. The Fish and Game takeover remains open to public comment until Oct. 20, according to the Federal Register.

“The FAA does not comment on Federal Register notices,” said FAA spokesman Jim Peters.

Most of the land is in Londonderry — 47.73 acres off Pettengill Road — with the remaining 8.93 acres off Brown Avenue in Manchester.

“The land is not buildable due to the requirement to remain in conservation,” Malafronte said. “The property can never be developed for airport use or otherwise and the airport must ensure the 57 acres stays in conservation.”

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